Yesterday the Grand Rapids Press reported on per-capita carbon emissions in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area, but also saw fit to include a two paragraph mention of a “conservative” organization called Grassfire.org that advances highly questionable claims about global warming.
On Thursday, the Grand Rapids Press reported on Grand Rapids’ per capita carbon emissions with an article on a study that was also covered by Mediamouse.org. However, in addition to citing the study and discussing its findings, the Grand Rapids Press decided to include a two paragraph reference to what it labeled as a “conservative group” called Grassfire.org:
“Such studies are meaningless to conservative groups such as Grassfire.org, which argues that reducing personal carbon footprints won’t help the planet and that energy use is the “lifeblood of our economy.”
Anticipating the Brookings study, Grassfire.org this week announced it would hold a national “Carbon Belch Day” — promoting barbecues and taking long drives — on June 12.”
However, the Grand Rapids Press failed to include any background on Grassfire.org or its views on global warming. Had the Press included them, it would have seen that the organization is far from a reputable source on global warming.
A good indicator of Grassfire.org’s views is the so-called “Carbon Belch Day” mentioned in the article. On June 14, Grassfire.org is rallying its supporters to generate extra carbon emissions “by hosting a barbecue, going for a drive, watching television, leaving a few lights on, or even smoking a few cigars.” Grassfire.org believes that this will raise awareness about “climate alarmism” while also critiquing the meaninglessness of “goofy save the earth mandates telling us to turn our lights off for an hour.” Moreover, the organization argues the day will have “at least as much impact on the so-called ‘planetary emergency’ of man-made global warming as the goofy save the earth mandates telling us to turn our lights off for an hour. In fact, since energy is the lifeblood of our economy, a healthy carbon belch just might do some good.”
The news release announcing the Carbon Belch Day is entirely devoid of science and offers no basis for any of its claims. Similarly the website for the day–touted in the news release–does not offer any evidence to support its overreaching claim that concern about global warming is “climate alarmism.” Instead, it offers the following reasons for why one should participate in Carbon Belch Day:
“In this world of carbon credits and endless “Green” propaganda, why would we encourage tens of thousands of people to increase their CO2 output on Carbon Belch Day?
* Because Al Gore’s “planetary emergency” is a bunch of hot air…
* Because shrinking your “carbon footprint” is not going to save the world from doom…
* Because CO2 isn’t even a pollutant — life needs CO2…
* Because energy is the fuel of human progress and man is not the “bad guy”…
* Because the real “planetary emergency” is the coming $1.2 Carbon Tax…
* And because it’s fun and your Carbon Belch might actually do some good!”
There is no evidence given to support any of these claims. On the website, “hot air” is linked to a page on another Grassfire operated website titled “So You’ve Heard Plenty About Global Warming.” That typo-laden web page boldly claims:
“The claim that global warming is a “crisis” has been thoroughly debunked by leading scientists around the world. Surveys show that most scientists do not buy into the hype that the modern warming is due to human activities. The majority of scientists agree that the Earth’s climate is very complex and insufficiently understood to make an accurate forecast.”
It cites a variety of global warming “skeptics” including Tim Ball and Roy Spencer. It also cites a CNN special hosted by Glenn Beck called “Exposed: Climate of Fear” which relied primarily on people with ties to the energy industry or who advocated debunked positions on global warming. Basically, it rehashes tired old and debunked claims by “skeptics” that global warming is not being caused by humans and that there is not enough scientific “proof” to justify action. Few of the claims made on the site would hold up to any level of scrutiny and they also contradict the scientific consensus that the humans are causing global warming.
Grassfire–aside from pulling a stunt to get media attention with its Carbon Belch Day–is actively campaigning against regulations and policies aimed at reducing global warming. On its website, there is a petition that people can sign opposing “U.S. participation in the Kyoto treaty or any such successor agreement, mandatory domestic limits on CO2, and any federal or state carbon “tax” or “cap-and-trade” system.” The site directs much of its opposition to global warming regulations towards Al Gore.
While it is true that Al Gore is a visible advocate of addressing global warming, he is not the end-all-and-be-all of the global warming debate. Gore’s claims are based on science developed by countless researchers. However, Grassfire’s focus on Gore–an easily polarizing figure to “conservatives”–provides a sure way to mobilize its supporters. Grassfire formed in 2000 and claims to be guided by “a strong and unwavering commitment to conservative, pro-family and pro-faith values.” During the 2004 presidential election, Grassfire.org ran ads attacking Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry and MoveOn.org (http://www.stealthpacs.org/profile.cfm?org_id=2612). Beyond global warming, it has worked on “conservative” issues including immigration, getting conservative judges confirmed for the Supreme Court, and abortion. It also has a reputation for being very tight-lipped about its finances.
So why did the Grand Rapids Press include a mention of Grassfire.org and its “Carbon Belch Day” in its article? The Press reporter failed to include any information from Grassfire.org that challenged the substance of the Brooking Institutes’s study of per-capita carbon emissions. Moreover, Grassfire’s claims on global warming should have been more than enough to indicate that it is not a reputable source on global warming. While the Grand Rapids Press failed to investigate Grassfire.org, a reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review received a news release from Grassfire.org about global warming, investigated the organization, and raised concerns about its accountability–if one of their peers can do that kind of research, why can’t The Press?